Article topic: Research and Development

Outline of an ePub authoring system

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I mentioned in a previous post that we’re working on interactive e-book for the Women on the Road to Health project. Here I’ll outline a simple system for authoring ePub 3 content.

There are plenty of tools you can use to help you make an ePub 3 bundle. Here’s a list of some of them: http://www.daisy.org/daisypedia/tools-creating-epub-3-files

As I mentioned in the post linked above, I’ve been solving problems in the most basic way possible and then working up from there. Now that I need to deal with about 50 pages of content in our ePub, I imagined that a script in the style of a static site generator would be useful. There are two reasons for this: In an ePub, the table of contents needs to be in sync with the content, and each page in an ePub has its own xhtml file.

build_tree.py reads the data in tree.json and applies this to the templates in the templates/ directory, then writes the rendered templates into the EPUB directory. Right now, the “template rendering” process is just a string replace:

newpage.write(page_t.replace('TITLE', page['title']))

Currently, tree.json only contains the structure of the book and the title of each page. I’m expecting to adapt the data model to our content, with the ability to specify video pages, interactives, etc. The ePub we’re making doesn’t actually contain many pages of multi-paragraph text, but this system could definitely work for more traditional ePubs like that.

As I work through the EPUB 3 Best Practices book I’ll be adding improvements along the way.

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